If you have not had your vitamin D level checked, it is wise to do so. Primary care physicians are beginning to check the level of this vitamin in the blood routinely at annual physicals because of the high percentage of Americans who are deficient in this vitamin.
Vitamin D is recognized as important because it assists in the absorption of calcium, thereby helping to maintain bone and muscle health. Recent studies have indicated additional reasons why maintaining an adequate amount of vitamin D is important. It is widely known that obesity increases one’s risk of developing diabetes. Research is suggesting that those with low levels of vitamin D, regardless of weight, have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, pre-diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
Furthermore, additional studies indicate that overweight individuals who have osteoarthritis had less pain and were better able to walk, balance, and rise from a sitting to a standing position when they had higher levels of vitamin D in their bloodstream.
Consider getting your vitamin D level checked, especially if you are overweight. Vitamin D is stored in the liver and in human fat cells. Excess body fat causes vitamin D to be stored instead of circulated in the body. Based on recommendations by the Institute of Medicine, adults ages 18-70 should take 600 IU (international units) of vitamin D per day and adults over 71 should get at least 800 IU daily. Some sources recommend even higher amounts.
Are you getting enough vitamin D in your diet? Probably not. An 8 ounce glass of milk contains about 100 IU of vitamin D. Foods that are good sources of vitamin D include salmon, tuna, sardines, shrimp, egg yolks, mushrooms, and foods fortified with vitamin D such as milk, some cereals, yogurt, and some orange juices. Getting enough vitamin D from sun exposure alone is probably unlikely especially if one is compliant with sunscreen use.
Fran Matteson, MS, RD